When someone dies, we want to reach out and comfort those who were closest to the deceased. We want to show we care about the bereaved in a personal way. Just as we use our words to comfort those who are grieving the death of a loved one, we can also use our actions to show we care.
When we give our most precious gift of all, a gift of ourselves, we make a personal statement about the importance of our relationship to the deceased or to the surviving family.
When someone dies, we tend to think about sending flowers and perhaps bringing food. The first one is easy, and the second one is not always necessary. There’s nothing wrong with either, but when we feel the need to show in a more personal way how much we care, here are five things we can do.
Simply being present communicates support and sympathy. It says we are available for whatever is needed – whether it is running an errand or caring for other family members, or answering the telephone. Being present says we accept the bereaved in whatever condition they are at this moment, without judging, without attempting to fix or to change them. They will remember that we were present for them and did not make demands on them in their grief.
Being quiet means we are comfortable with the silence. It also means we are willing to listen to the bereaved speak about the loved one who has died or the circumstances of the death, thoughts about the future or any of the myriad of feelings the bereaved have when someone dies.
Have physical contact.
Whether it is a hug, a hand on the arm, an arm around the shoulder or holding hands, physical contact communicates our presence and desire to provide comfort. When we give a hug, others feel how much we care.
Send or bring a sympathy card.
A card should always include a short note about a particular memory you have of the deceased or what the person meant to you or how you will remember her. If you did not know the deceased, your note can focus on the importance of the relationship to the bereaved. Later, when they read or re-read the cards, they will know that you share in their grief and that you care for their well-being.
Visit or call again.
Family and friends flock together immediately after a death, yet within days or even hours after the funeral, the bereaved are often left alone. While they need time to find their way to a new set of routines and a new life without the deceased, it is also easy for those who are grieving to feel abandoned or excluded. Remember to check in from time to time with a phone call. In your conversation, do extend an invitation to do something together, or to come visit, or to provide specific assistance such as taking care of a particular chore the deceased used to handle.
None of us can feel others’ loss or pain for them. The best we can do is to provide them comfort and show our acceptance of their grief. It is not hard to do any of these five things when someone dies, and the comfort we give by doing them will be remembered.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: When someone we care about suffers the loss of a loved one, we can do more than use our words to express our sympathy, we can trust our actions also show how much we care.